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Old 07-31-2005, 01:18 AM  
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Posnanski: Bell should deliver plenty of hits

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...s/12266484.htm

BLAST FROM THE PAST
Chiefs’ Bell should deliver plenty of hits

JOE POSNANSKI
Kansas City Star


RIVER FALLS, Wis. — For years now, the Kansas City Chiefs have spotlighted their big hit of the week. This feature is sponsored by the Acme Brick Co. What happens is this: Sometime in the second half of home games, during a television timeout, the Commodores’ “Brick House” will begin to play (“She’s mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out.”) Everybody knows then to look up at the scoreboard.

And the Chiefs’ biggest hits of the week will play.

This is a fun concept. The problem is, lately the hits have been pretty lame. This is not the fault of the good people at Acme Brick, who have been providing quality bricks to Wile E. Coyote for some time now.

No, the problem is that once these hits of the week were Derrick Thomas coming around the end and tomahawking a quarterback or Neil Smith putting a running back on his back or a safety, one of several hit men, flying up and cracking his helmet into the chest of a receiver. Now, though, the hits are mild-looking arm tackles or dull sacks where the quarterback goes down slower than the apple at Times Square.

It is no secret that the Chiefs stopped playing good defense around the time Bill Clinton was impeached. The two events may not be related. But what is related, and what people don’t talk much about, is somewhere along the way the Chiefs, like Sammy Sosa, stopped hitting. The Chiefs stopped knocking the ball out of receivers’ hands, stopped flattening running backs and making them think twice before hitting the hole again, stopped blindsiding quarterbacks.

There is a lot to playing defense. The Chiefs have struggled in every category. They have missed tackles and overextended and been out of position and dropped sure interceptions and committed painful penalties and everything else.

But here’s the most frustrating flaw: The Chiefs defense stopped intimidating.

“It has been a while since we were getting the big hits,” Chiefs president/CEO/general manager/haberdasher Carl Peterson says. “It was amazing then. You could hear the oohs and ahhs all through the stadium.”

Peterson smiles thinking of those hitting days.

Then he smiles again, thinking of Kendrell Bell.

“They say speed kills,” he says. “Well, this guy’s got all kinds of speed. You blink, and Kendrell’s on you. Whoosh. Just like that. He’s on you. Maybe we can bring back the old days again. Maybe he can help us.”

Yes, Carl Peterson said “whoosh.”

Everybody knows the Chiefs have brought in a wave of new defensive players, each with his own particular talent. Cornerback Patrick Surtain is a pure cover guy; he clamps on to a receiver, blankets him, shadows him, irritates him, bumps him off course.

Safety Sammy Knight has an uncanny, Jessica Fletcher-like habit of being in the right place at the right time. He’s had 35 interceptions since he came into the league in 1998; only Darren Sharper has more in that time.

Editor’s note: Jessica Fletcher is the woman from “Murder She Wrote.”

Linebacker Derrick Johnson is not in camp, but he will be soon enough, and he’s a fairly remarkable talent. He’s 6 feet 3, weighs 242 pounds. He’s fast enough to cover receivers, elusive enough to get to the quarterback, tough enough that in his senior year at Texas he made 130 tackles and forced an NCAA-record nine fumbles.

It’s funny, the one knock you constantly hear about Johnson is that he doesn’t “take on blockers.” Who cares? You know, last I checked, blockers don’t have the ball. Donnie Edwards doesn’t take on blockers, and he has led his teams in tackles seven years in a row. There’s only one question that matters about Johnson: Does he make plays?

“Derrick Johnson has a chance to be a playmaker for us the first day he steps on the field,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil says.

OK. See, that’s what counts. Anyway, these three men will start, and a new pass rusher named Carlos Hall will play a lot, and Vermeil says young players like Jared Allen, Junior Siavii and, yes, Ryan Sims all look better. The Chiefs believe they now have players all over the field who can pick off a pass or jump on a fumble or strip the ball out of a running back’s hands. The Chiefs believe they have found playmakers.

Then there’s Kendrell Bell. He is a different kind of force. Bell is 245 pounds of mean. He rushes to the ball the way kids rush to a fight in the schoolyard. This is the kind of fury that made him the NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2001 — the first Pittsburgh Steelers player to win that award since another intense linebacker, Jack Lambert.

Bell can blow up plays. He can devastate running backs. He can be an unstoppable force on the blitz. He can lay on a hit that will crack the backs of every man over 50 in the stadium. And just one of those hits can change the entire complexion of a game.

Vermeil has already seen Bell’s possibilities up close; there was a play Friday during the Chiefs’ first practice in pads where a screen pass came floating into a receiver’s hands. And suddenly, Bell was there.

“It was like he appeared out of nowhere,” Vermeil says. Because it was just practice and because the players are instructed not to kill each other, Bell pulled up. But if he had not pulled up, if he had driven on through, there would have been some road kill on the field. There would have been a Chiefs receiver hearing, “She’s mighty mighty and lettin’ it all hang out,” again and again in his head.

This, of course, is what the Chiefs are counting on.

“There’s no doubt we have to get that attitude back where we are hitting people, making them think twice,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said shortly after Bell was signed. Cunningham probably would say the same thing again now, except he’s not talking much. He’s too busy looking vaguely disgusted, working 23 hours per day and shouting “Show up” at his players. This is his camp theme. Show up. Every time a ball is thrown, every time a running back hits the line, every time a bell rings, someone, usually Cunningham, yells, “Show up.”

What “Show up” means, of course, is “Knock someone’s helmet sideways.”

At least that’s what it means to Kendrell Bell.

The Chiefs gave up more big plays, 20-plus yards, than any team in the NFL last season. For only the second time in 15 years, they turned the ball over more often than they forced turnovers. In the Chiefs’ seven wins they gave up 26 points a game, which tells just how good this offense had to be to manage even a 7-9 record.

Here’s another upsetting statistic: The Chiefs gave up 28 points or more four times at Arrowhead Stadium last year. Do you know how many times the Chiefs gave up that many points at home in Marty Schottenheimer’s 10 years as coach? Three.

It’s just an opinion, but I think the Chiefs’ lack of hitting is a major cause for all these problems. Quarterbacks drop back unafraid. Receivers go over the middle like they own a time share there. Running backs run into the hole utterly undaunted by what might be waiting on the other side. Cunningham always says that so much of defense is attitude, and his attitude can be summed up in two words: “create fear.”

“Teams used to hate getting into third and long against our defense,” Peterson says. “You could see that look in their eyes. They just wanted to punt. They knew nothing good could happen.

“Last year, it would be third and long, and you could see the look in our players’ eyes. They knew something bad might happen. It was obvious. They knew it. Our coaches knew it. I knew it. Our fans knew it. Everybody knew there was a pretty good chance we were going to give it up. We have to get back to the way it was.”

There are a lot of reasons to believe that it will be better this time around. This year’s Chiefs defense has several more talented and experienced players. They have added 65 interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and 43 career sacks to the starting lineup. They have added plenty of speed. They have changed the whole look of the defense.

But even the Chiefs coaches admit they don’t know for sure how it will all come together. I think it will be smart to keep an eye on Kendrell Bell. He’s the biggest factor. In his short career, Bell has been hurt, he has been inconsistent. But he’s healthy now. And if you see him often on Acme Brick’s “hit of the week,” the Chiefs might be a very different defense in 2005. They might even be mighty, mighty. And then, look out.
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Old 07-31-2005, 01:28 AM   #2
Rausch Rausch is offline
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Gunther needs to have a civil conversation with DV.

"You stay the **** away from my side of the ball and you can walk away with a ring and all the headlines. What you do has worked wonders for the Offense but these defenders need to think of prison sex when they see a QB. I want them to eat what they kill, kill what they see, and see exactly where the ball is. "
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Denver rookie QB John Elway, on Jack Lambert, after Lambert and the Steelers knocked Elway out of his first game as a pro (1983).
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Originally Posted by rico
I wish I always ended up at gay bars.
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:02 AM   #3
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But then who would coddle them?
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Taco John
But then who would coddle them?
Is that supposed to be a pun?...
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"He had no teeth, and he was slobbering all over himself. I'm thinking, 'You can have your money back, just get me out of here. Let me go be an accountant." I can't tell you how badly I wanted out of there."
Denver rookie QB John Elway, on Jack Lambert, after Lambert and the Steelers knocked Elway out of his first game as a pro (1983).
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Originally Posted by rico
I wish I always ended up at gay bars.
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:05 AM   #5
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In a manner of speaking, I suppose it is...
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Old 07-31-2005, 02:06 AM   #6
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But if he had not pulled up, if he had driven on through, there would have been some road kill on the field.
Ken"drill" Bell.
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:06 AM   #7
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The easy part is done (The talking) Let's see it on the field now for real.
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:14 AM   #8
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It is no secret that the Chiefs stopped playing good defense around the time Bill Clinton was impeached

You see what you damn rebulicans did.....
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:41 AM   #9
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How long until the first preseason game again?
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:52 AM   #10
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provided he (bell) finds the key, and unlocks his back......We may not have enough without him. We will be better though, we have to be.
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:55 AM   #11
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This article sure makes a nice pep-rally. Too bad pep-rallies don't make tackles.
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Old 07-31-2005, 08:56 AM   #12
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This article sure makes a nice pep-rally. Too bad pep-rallies don't make tackles.
Hey, shut yer ass. It's all we've had to go on the last few years.......
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:42 AM   #13
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One good quote in here, exactly how I feel:

"It’s funny, the one knock you constantly hear about Johnson is that he doesn’t “take on blockers.” Who cares? You know, last I checked, blockers don’t have the ball. Donnie Edwards doesn’t take on blockers, and he has led his teams in tackles seven years in a row. There’s only one question that matters about Johnson: Does he make plays?"

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Old 07-31-2005, 09:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rausch
Gunther needs to have a civil conversation with DV.

"You stay the **** away from my side of the ball and you can walk away with a ring and all the headlines. What you do has worked wonders for the Offense but these defenders need to think of prison sex when they see a QB. I want them to eat what they kill, kill what they see, and see exactly where the ball is. "
Please allow me to re-structure this last sentence. Don't mind me please.

"I want my players to read and see exactly where the ball is, destroy what they shall seek, and devour what they destroy".
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:25 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phobia
This article sure makes a nice pep-rally. Too bad pep-rallies don't make tackles.
Uh about that Philly ticket....
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